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Britons enc-ash-ing volcanic hols

The Iceland volcano ash has given two Britons an extended holiday to explore the lanes and by-lanes of Lucknow. Joe Roberts and Ari Ashley are just loving their overstay for it is giving them more inputs for their writing project.

lucknow Updated: Apr 22, 2010 07:50 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey

The Iceland volcano ash has given two Britons an extended holiday to explore the lanes and by-lanes of Lucknow.

Joe Roberts and Ari Ashley are just loving their overstay for it is giving them more inputs for their writing project. They can now tell you that a wet gamchha (cotton cloth) is poor man's air conditioner in summers and the spicy mattar chaat on board a second-class train compartment doesn't always upset your stomach.

"And it's damn cheap too!"

Guests of filmmaker Muzaffar Ali in Lucknow, they are busy slipping into Indian dresses, travelling second class, gorging on street food, and discovering that khasta-aloo, kulcha-chola combo could be a great tummy-filler at no cost.

"If we are forced to stay longer, we might as well hire someone to teach us Hindi-Urdu too," says Joe Roberts, who teaches creative writing and non-fiction in the University of Bath, UK. Roberts, who has already picked up, "koi baat nahi and chalta hai," is posting his experiences on Facebook too.

On his third trip to Lucknow, (he has been to India 14 times in 20 years), he along with his school friend, Ari Ashley, is working on a book on the city. The book now might have several new chapters added to it.

"Usually, for foreign tourists it's the Delhi-Agra-Rajasthan circuit that is marketed to foreigners. We wish to tell the foreigners across the globe, that Lucknow, too needs to be visited. We would surely make our readers more aware about the lesser known joys the city offers," Roberts says.

Ashley has already picked up several 'ganjis' (under shirts) for her children.

"They are soft, better than what we would get in Britain," Ari, who is clicking photographs for the book, says.

Roberts can't forget Lucknow's winter delicacy -- makhanmalai (butter cream). He had tasted the "creamy yellow froth" in the old city last year.

But, what he still remembers is the vendor explaining him that if he had it every morning he would no longer need glasses, "for makhanmalai contains dew, which is known to improve eyesight."

Their book might contain all this and more, things that foreigners need to know.

Like?

"That your fair skin won't attract attention here beyond a point and that the city would take care of you even in an emergency like this," they say.